Author Topic: Player goals within roguelikes  (Read 8277 times)

stefoid

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Player goals within roguelikes
« on: March 15, 2015, 10:52:07 PM »
Im building a squad-based tactical roguelike.  (3 character team)  www.dungeonbash.com 

I feel like I have the squad-based tactics more or less in place. 

But now I feel like I need another layer to the game - some explicit player goals besides the single one - descent to level 20 to kill the big-bad.  That is the main goal, but I feel if I add fairly frequent sub-goals, they will help pull the player along by dangling that a 'just one more' type of carrot in front of the player.

What kind of short term achievements/goals do you think would be a good idea in a roguelike where the main preoccupation is squad-based tactical combat.

For context, the game is based in a dungeon (duh), and currently all items are gained only through killing monsters - there is money, no shops and no items lying around on the ground.  There is XP which results in incremental upgrading of character stats.

thanks,
My squad-based tactical roguelike for mobiles:
http://www.dungeonbash.com

mushroom patch

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Re: Player goals within roguelikes
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2015, 11:51:55 PM »
Uh, how about mid-bosses?

I don't know, if there's no loot and no plot, what else can you do? Maybe side quests with optional bosses to build your characters' levels?

stefoid

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Re: Player goals within roguelikes
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2015, 12:34:41 AM »
Hi - yep, there is loot, but you have to fight to get it.  Its just not lying around or able to be purchased, is what Im saying.  Also, the dungeon is a one-way trip.  No going back up.

mini-bosses with unique items was my first thought, because it would be easy to implement. 

From my own experience, I do get involved with things like  poly-piling stuff, and heading back to levels where there was an expensive item when I have enough gold.  These are sub-goals I set for myself - self-imposed quests I suppose you could call them. 

I think 'crafting' is another such - collect bits and bobs and the sub-goal is to get a cool item.  Poly-piling is a form of crafting I guess...
My squad-based tactical roguelike for mobiles:
http://www.dungeonbash.com

wire_hall_medic

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Re: Player goals within roguelikes
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2015, 04:42:43 AM »
I like having optional levels; two exits, one of which is clearly marked as being more difficult, but having better loot.  You always want to do the harder level, but you have to weigh that against your current capabilities.  If you elect to take the harder path, it replaces the level you would have done.  For example, you're on level 10, then exit to a special level.  Upon exiting the special, you're on level 12.  DoomRL did this well.

stefoid

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Re: Player goals within roguelikes
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2015, 12:57:31 PM »
That offers the player an extra decision to make which is cool, but it doesnt count as a subgoal.  I did think of something though -

Currently in the game, XP is silently and incrementally turned into stat increases.  There is no leveling up, its just that every now and then as your XP increases, this or that stat might tick up a notch.

Im thinking this is a wasted opportunity to (a) give the player some choices and (b) dangle some subgoals in front of them.

i.e. at the end of each level, you could get a screen that says how many XP you have to spend, and the cost for various stat increases, and also buy new abilities.  This is a tried and true method...

So then the player would be looking forward to the end of each level as the chance to improve their character and they might have specific things on their shopping list theya re saving up for.  This would count as sub-goals.

Also, I was thinking that 20 levels until the battle with the big boss is not a very immediate - its the end goal, but the player can lose sight of what they are fighting for.  So Im thinking if there are 3 or 4 mini-bosses, each having a piece of something that when fully assembled enables you to kill the big bad, as well as being a handy item in its own right, then every 4 or 5 levels the end-goal is being reminded/reinforced as well.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2015, 01:00:00 PM by stefoid »
My squad-based tactical roguelike for mobiles:
http://www.dungeonbash.com

reaver

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Re: Player goals within roguelikes
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2015, 01:12:18 PM »
Also, I was thinking that 20 levels until the battle with the big boss is not a very immediate - its the end goal, but the player can lose sight of what they are fighting for.  So Im thinking if there are 3 or 4 mini-bosses, each having a piece of something that when fully assembled enables you to kill the big bad, as well as being a handy item in its own right, then every 4 or 5 levels the end-goal is being reminded/reinforced as well.

That's quite nice I think.

akeley

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Re: Player goals within roguelikes
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2015, 04:17:01 AM »
I`m not a fan of quests, mid-bosses and other cRPG tropes in roguelikes. These could work if properly randomized but not always are, especially quests (old Sid Meier`s titles - Covert Action especially - did it really well). I`m playing lots of ToME at the moment and this is my major complaint about it - the "goal" structure is rigid, you always end up doing the same things, know where and what the midbosses are and don`t even bother with the lore scraps anymore.

It`s always been a problem with overworld type RLs - but at least in ADOM or Qud it`s just a line or two of text and the whole "quest" thing is not that important anyway because there`s much more to do and explore.

In a straight dungeon dive it could feel even more restraining than in an open world. If the mid-bosses are always in certain region holding the same thing the game risks becoming predictable and boring - and it also removes the important "fight or flight" mechanic - if the boss has a necessary item, it`s always "fight".  (The whole thing kind of works in CRPGs because it`s tied to a story and you usually just play through once or few times between reloads).

I think approach from Crawl is much better - Sigmunds & Co can appear anytime, anywhere - sometimes two in the same room sometimes not at all (not played Infra Arcana too much so can`t tell for sure but I think The Witch -and maybe others - is appearing in a similarly random manner). And that`s what keeps you on your toes and makes the game more interesting. Same can be said for side-areas: why not randomize them and free from the mandatory quest carrot? If I see an entrance to a new place I will most likely want to explore anyway without some old sage ordering me to - and if my resources are low and/or general feeling not right, I might not. It`s a choice. 

Overall, as a player, I`m not too bothered by having "goals", at least in the standard definition of. I think that`s what older RLs understood and why they just tell you to recover Amulet of X from down below - otherwise you`d have an infinite dungeon which is not that exciting. The most important goal in a roguelike, for me at least, is the gameplay itself - overcoming obstacles and watching  plenty of interesting systems working together. Leveling up is one of these systems so yeah,  it`s nice to be able to bump your stats every now and then and a valid "goal" too.

stefoid

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Re: Player goals within roguelikes
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2015, 06:52:16 AM »
When you boil it down, the itch that players are scratching is progression.   Sub-goals make progression more visible and immediate - they give the player points of reference for how far they have progressed and something immediate to focus on- people arent very good at staying focussed/interested in long term goals.

In Dbash, I dont think having permanent mini-bosses is such a problem because although the obstacle will always be the same, the means to over come it will be different, because dbash gives the player a randomised team of three different characters, each with different capabilities.
However, you did just give the me the idea of mixing up the rewards.  Perhaps I could have a bunch of different rewards, each made of 4 pieces that must be collected from mini-bosses, so that when you progress to the final battle, not only is your team different, but the mini-boss reward has different capabilities.  Like this one is a staff that does hugehge amounts of burst damage, whereas that one is a dagger that does heaps of ambush damage, etc...
My squad-based tactical roguelike for mobiles:
http://www.dungeonbash.com

stefoid

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Re: Player goals within roguelikes
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2015, 11:01:05 PM »
I`m not a fan of quests, mid-bosses and other cRPG tropes in roguelikes. These could work if properly randomized but not always are, especially quests (old Sid Meier`s titles - Covert Action especially - did it really well). I`m playing lots of ToME at the moment and this is my major complaint about it - the "goal" structure is rigid, you always end up doing the same things, know where and what the midbosses are and don`t even bother with the lore scraps anymore.

Actually, this whole discussion and others I am having is bringing up some really interesting points to consider.

One is time-pressure - both carrot and/or stick.  What part can it play in roguelikes.  I just realized that food is one such stick in a lot of games.

Another is the nature of the mini-bosses.  In dbash at the moment, monsters are pretty predicatable in that they come at you bro.  Its usually the player team that is trying to setting up defensively with choke points and behind terrain, and using ranged attacks to pick of hordes as they advance before committing to melee etc...  and thats fine.

But mini-bosses could actually sit on the exit and try (somehow) to set up their own defensive position.  Thus turning the tables forcing the player team to be the one that has to be on the attack.  Anyone seen 'enter the dragon?'   
My squad-based tactical roguelike for mobiles:
http://www.dungeonbash.com